Irving Berlin

Definition

Theater

  • (Israel Baline; 1888 - 1989) US composer of songs, film scores, andBroadway musicals. His masterpieces, both of which starred Ethel Mermanwere Annie Get Your Gun (1946) and Call Me Madam (1950).

    Berlin was born in the Siberian village of Temun, the sonof a rabbi; at the age of four he saw his family home burned downduring a pogrom. Within a year the Baline family had arrived at NewYork's Ellis Island and settled into the city's Lower East Side. Israelbegan to write songs while working as a newsboy and singing waiter,finding success with 'Alexander's Ragtime Band' in 1911. Later hitsincluded 'White Christmas' and 'God Bless America'.

    Berlin's first Broadway hit was Watch Your Step (1914),in which he introduced ragtime to the stage. This was followed in1918 by Yip, Yip, Yaphank, which included the popular 'Oh,How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning'. In 1933 he wrote As ThousandsCheer, which included 'Easter parade'.

    Berlin's music also featured in revues, including the ZiegfeldFollies and The Music Box Revue staged at his own MusicBox Theatre. He lived to be over 100, having composed over 1,000 songs.The songwriter Jerome Kern commented, "Irving Berlin has noplace in American music...he is American music."

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